31 Jul Premiere: Pillow Pro – ‘Sex Appeal’

Photo by Daniel Ford

Synth-pop duo Pillow Pro‘s new single ‘Sex Appeal’ sounds like you’ve boarded a lux private jet with your lover and flown through a sea of pink clouds in a neon sky, drinking from a bottomless glass of expensive champagne -– the perfect daydream to indulge in as you’re lying on your bedroom floor.

This track is a perfect execution of the way vocalists/producers Christobel Elliott and Sophie Millis merge their vocal styles while sounding disarmingly distant from one another. Over a snapping beat and hazy soundscape, the two shift between reflective spoken word verses — a nod to the likes of Uffie — and sensual harmonies reminiscent of R’n’B artist Kelela.

Lyrically the duo bring sexual expression to the forefront, reclaiming their sexuality in a space where artistic integrity can be so easily dismissed due to the bias’ inherent in the music industry.

You can catch the track above, with the accompanying music video set to be dropped soon.


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08 May Premiere: Girlatones – ‘You’re My Friend’

As Melbourne’s weather descends into bleaker winter temperatures, Girlatones‘ poppy single ‘You’re My Friend’ has arrived like a warm ray of sunshine. Backed with surfy riffs and soaring vocal harmonies, this track is a head bopping ode to friendship, all done in good honest humour. On first impression, the track teeters somewhere between the noise pop of The Breeders and Best Coast’s earlier work. The quirk here though is in vocalist Jesse Williams’ detached delivery. The heartwarming dedication of “You’re my friend and we’ll stay together until the end”, before the proposition “There is something I want you to understand/Could it be clearer?” portrays a strong element of self awareness.

The track shows a departure from the sound they explored on their debut EP Everybody’s Making Pop Music, exchanging acoustic garage jangle pop for more bubblegum-inspired surf pop.

Following on from the release of their debut EP, the quartet are currently in the midst of working on their self-produced first LP, which is set to reach your ears later in the year. For now, you can catch Girlatones’ brand of sunny indie pop at The Old Bar on the 14th of May for their single launch, with supports from Caroline No and 19th Century Strongmen (click through here for more details).

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20 Oct An Essential Celebration – Sad Grrrls Fest 2016

Words by James McNiece // Photos by Elizabeth Burns

It was an exciting time to be in Footscray a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn’t just to see the Bulldogs win the flag in this year’s grand final. Taking over The Reverence Hotel was Sad Grrrls Fest, a festival to celebrate and create a safe space for local female and LGBTIQA+ artists. The kickass lineup displayed the talents from some of the most exciting Melbourne acts from our thriving local music scene. Taking place across two clash-free main stages, and an acoustic stage in the beer garden, the long overdue warm Spring weather made for a successful day with everybody in high spirits.

The daytime sets saw many emerging local acts, such as The Girl Fridas and Beloved Elk, display their gripping indie rock cuts to the beer and cider-sipping crowd. Slowing down the pace was the enchanting Denim Owl, whose dreamy guitar and folky sensibility was perfect for the sunny afternoon.

As daylight came to an end, the afternoon was polished off with three piece band Claws & Organs, whose drowning, wallowing brand of psychedelic infused grunge was nineties alt rock heaven. Fronted by vocalist and bassist Heather Thomas, the bands back and forth, apathetic chanting vocals embodied a slowed down cover of the Swingers‘ famous hit ‘Counting the Beat’ which they made entirely their own.


Electronic artist KT Spit took the front bar stage as evening approached, her punk influenced brand of electronica with playful, ethereal vocals meeting somewhere between Kathleen Hanna and Grimes. Playing to a mostly seated crowd allowed for an intimate performance, with her isolated dancer expanding the vulnerability of her music. The set also featured an a capalla sung with a vocoder reminiscent of the likes of Imogen Heap‘s ‘Hide and Seek‘.

Packing out the back room stage was Alex Lahey, who has had a big year, securing substantial airplay on Triple J with her track ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me‘. Between her energetic bouncy guitar playing and relaxed vocals, Lahey charmed the crowd with little anecdotes of her experiences, recalling conversations she has had with her mother in times of need.


Simona Castricum took to the front bar stage with her dark eighties/early nineties inspired club tunes. A prolific member of the Melbourne queer music scene as a producer, vocalist and drummer, Simona’s performance was an essential reminder as to why events like Sad Grrrls Fest are still so important. Playing a dance-ready collection of tracks, you could really feel the emotional intensity of her set, with Simona herself brought to tears during her single ‘Still‘, a triumphant nod to the darker reverbed style of eighties synth pop.


Bringing it back to all things rock on the back room stage, punk rock act Miss Destiny’s dynamic tunes laid out a mix of political anecdotes and their signature energetic punk rock sound. Absent from the band was Harriet Stewart, who was out partying for her birthday. Yet the band remained unaffected, with their enormous stage persona and Harriet Hudson’s plentiful shredding guitar solos a highlight of the day.


Camp Cope played the back room stage with their emotional, relatable brand of indie rock. 2016 has been a big year for the band, solidifying their place in the Australian music scene and touring with sold out shows across the country. Vocalist Georgia Maq’s powerhouse vocals and charging guitar complimented the vulnerability and angst embedded in her lyrics. A highlight was their cover of the classic Yeah Yeah Yeahs song ‘Maps‘, which led the whole room erupting into a sing-along, truly encapsulating the communal spirit of the day.


As the night came to a close, the tunes become mellower, with Jess Ribeiro playing the last slot on the front bar stage. Her beautiful harmonies with her bass player made for a more indie-pop sound compared to heavier acts earlier in the day. She mirrored the soulful vocal style of the likes of Cat Power, which saw for an enjoyable and captivating watch. Polishing off the great tunes was Ribeiro and her band’s stage presence, effortlessly communicating with one another as if they were family.


Last on the bill was the always-idiosyncratic presence of Jaala, who have enjoyed widespread attention following the release of their debut record Hard Hold late last year. Coming off the relaxed vibes of Jess Ribero, Jaala fittingly brought the night to a close with their stuttering grooves and pulsating riffs, creating an emotional, disjointed performance like no other. Vocalist and guitarist Cosima Jaala’s anecdotes between songs were always enlightening and relevant, and felt like you were watching an authentic expression of her inner thoughts and feelings alongside the music.


Sad Grrrl Fest showcased some of the best talent from the ever expanding scene of female fronted and queer artists in Australia. An essential celebration and space for performers to express themselves without any limitations or fears is something truly special to watch and be a part of. In the past year, there has been a pivotal and important uprising within this music scene and it makes me truly excited to see which acts will feature next year, and for the acts who featured to continue thriving.


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23 Aug Premiere: Andrew Samuel – ‘I Still Feel Blue’

Singer-songwriter Andrew Samuel from Newtown, Sydney has sent us the premiere of his new track ‘I Still Feel Blue’ – set to be released on his new EP Hissing Bitterness out August 27th.

Driven by an acoustic guitar ‘I Still Feel Blue’ encapsulates the loneliness and isolation of the middle of nowhere. It’s the kind of tune that you would comfortably play under the stars in the middle of the Australian desert.

Samuel’s whispery, intimate vocals are warmly engaging, teetering somewhere between the warble of The National and the emotional drive of The Tallest Man on Earth. The beauty of Samuel’s brand of folk is that it does not beg for your attention, rather it enters your world quietly. ‘I Still Feel Blue’ stands among a crowd of other local folk music, yet it delicately prevails to be the most beautiful.

You can check out more of Andrew Samuel’s EP this Saturday upon its release, and see him live on his national tour starting August 25th in Brisbane.


Aug 25th, 2016 – Brisbane @ The End
Aug 28th, 2016 – Sydney @ Petersham Bowls Club Aug 29th, 2016 – Canberra @ The Front
Aug 30th, 2016 – Bendigo @ Billyroy’s Blues Bar Sep 1st, 2016 – Melbourne @ Bar Open
Sep 4th, 2016 – Tasmania @ Brisbane Hotel


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11 Aug Premiere: Pregnancy – ‘First Kiss’

Local band Pregnancy‘s debut single ‘First Kiss’ is like the unexpected Melbourne sun shining through the clouds on a cold overcast day. With its fluttering pop synth, sunny guitars of jangle pop and a vocal that nods to the likes of Paul Kelly, the band have delivered the perfect antidote to the grim winter weather currently bestowed upon us.

Only into their first trimester of gigging, Pregnancy are the unexpected love child of various other Melbourne acts – The Ocean Party, Totally Mild, Ciggie Witch, Cool Sounds, and Arthur Penn and the Funky Ten. Inspired by the disco-infused post-punk of the late 70’s, ‘First Kiss’ ends up sounding half way between the new wave aesthetic of Talking Heads and meaningful moments of 80’s pub rock, delivered with the bands’ own brand of indie pop.

Lyrically, the song explores themes of independence and progress, with vocalist Zac Denton singing about challenging times that have ultimately lead to growth and development. This is complimented by lusciously interwoven harmonies of vocalist Ashley Bundang, creating a layer of sincerity over the sunny guitar melodies and grooving beat.

‘First Kiss’ is our first taste of Pregnancy‘s forthcoming album that is due out early 2017.

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27 Jan Two Steps On The Water played a rather special show at Howler

To call Wednesday night’s performance truly special would be an understatement.  Enter Two Steps on the Water – one of Melbourne’s most beautifully engaging up-and-coming bands. Accompanied by an eclectic mix of support acts consisting of the dark new wave punk sounds of Spike Fuck, the hypnotic noise rock of Divide and Dissolve, and the synthpop heaven of Jessica Says, there was never a dull moment.

Almost packing out the Howler Band Room to the brim (keep in mind they have only just dropped their debut release) to officially launch the vinyl edition of their debut EP Pop Punk Feelings in a Country Western Body, and their first music video for the track ‘More True, More Rowdy’, I have never felt so much gratitude for a band whose music I am so newly exposed to.

Interestingly, instead of playing material from said EP, the band decided to play a collection of new songs from an upcoming record, which made the show all the more exciting. Teetering somewhere between folk and punk with a hint of country and western, the band creates a unique sound which simultaneously manages to be restrained, empty and vicious.

June Jones’ vocals and guitar hover between pretty and violent in the most transfixing way, complemented by subtle drumming and a soaring violin. It feels as if the band are silently conversing with one another through their instruments and inviting the audience to join with them. Jones’ lyrics are a deeply personal, philosophical affair that still undeniably welcomes you as the listener into her world.

Walking away from a Two Steps On The Water gig, I feel enlightened and somewhat optimistic, touched by the beauty that is their sound. It is rare to come across a local act who can give an emotionally raw and honest performance like this – perfectly balanced with Jones’ welcoming sense of humour and stage presence – making it one truly unique experience from one of the most essential up-and-coming live Melbourne bands to check out.


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15 Dec Arthur Penn & The Funky Ten – ‘Keeping it Together’

It’s been a long time since I’ve chucked on a new tune and instantly had the urge to dance.

After flying around the local Melbourne music scene for a couple of years, self-proclaimed 12-piece aero-funk band Arthur Penn & the Funky Ten have finally released their debut single ‘Keeping it Together’– one of the grooviest, most soulful tunes of the year.

Featuring a thumping brass intro fit for any big city crime show, a fat booty-shaking bassline, and vocal deliveries that will saw you in half (e.g. “mama on the line”), it sees the band’s sound teetering somewhere between a smoky jazz lounge bar and a funky roller disco nightclub, perfectly capturing the spirit of their always-entertaining live shows.

If you would like to hear more, be sure to check out the single’s B-side ‘Flight Deck Freak Delight’, which takes their brand of funk down a more psychedelic path that is still fun for the whole family.

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